The president of Yale is trying to assuage a public that is increasingly skeptical of the value of a college education today. “If we can first empathize with their concerns, rather than dismiss them as ill-founded or anti-intellectual, we will be better able to regain their trust,” Peter Salovey said in remarks delivered at the Higher Education Leadership at Yale in January and excerpted in the Chronicle of Higher Education in March.
To this end, he offered a string of assertions and three concrete facts, which were:
• “A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that the drop in confidence in higher education was due ‘almost entirely to growing skepticism among Americans without four-year degrees.’”
• “In 2012 the median annual earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher were $45,500, compared to $28,000 for high school graduates.”
• “University of California researchers found that for every dollar spent by a university, average incomes within the host city increased by 89 cents. Yale, for example, is the largest employer and a major taxpayer in the city of New Haven, Conn. Our economic impact is an estimated $8.8 billion statewide.”
Apparently, it never occurred to him that, even without a four-year degree, Americans skeptical of higher education might be working off of information that is more recent than 2012, six years ago. Moreover, Yale may indeed be the nucleus of New Haven but where does the money come from?